Ira Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein (pictured), E.Y. "Yip" Harburg and Lorenz Hart were born in New York City within two years of each other at the turning of the twentieth century. Their careers and lives repeatedly intersected as each became one of America's greatest lyricists, and their careers tell the story of the American musical as it evolved from operetta to musical comedy to serious musical play.
Hosts Sean Hartley; Laurence Maslon, author of Broadway: The American Musical and Professor of Theater at NYU; and Musical Director David Loud (Ragtime, Porgy and Bess) will lead a brilliant cast including Liz Callaway (Cats, Tony nominee for Baby), Lewis Cleale (Book of Mormon), Joshua Henry (Porgy and Bess, Tony nominee for The Scottsboro Boys), Matthew Scott (Jersey Boys, Sondheim on Sondheim), Kirsten Scott (Follies, Hairspray) and Betsy Wolfe (The Mystery of Edwin Drood). With pianist Paul Masse.
Ira Gershwin (1896-1983) collaborated with his brother, composer George Gershwin, to write songs that have become American standards, including "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," "They Can't Take That Away from Me" and "The Man I Love" and the musicals Lady, Be Good! (1924) and Girl Crazy (1930) as well as the opera Porgy and Bess (1935). He also wrote hit songs with Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill and Harold Arlen, with whom he wrote the songs for the 1954 film A Star is Born.
Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960) and Jerome Kern wrote Show Boat (1927), which pioneered the musical as a genre and is still considered one of the masterpieces of American musical theater. His most famous collaboration was with Richard Rodgers, with whom he wrote Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), South Pacific (1949) and The King and I (1951).
E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (1896-1981) wrote the lyrics to the standards "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," "April in Paris" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" as well as the musicals Bloomer Girl (1944) and Finian's Rainbow (1947) and all of the songs in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939). In Hollywood he worked with composers Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern, Jule Styne and Burton Lane.
Lorenz Hart (1895-1943) wrote many hit songs with composer Richard Rodgers, such as "Blue Moon," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "My Funny Valentine" and "Isn't It Romantic?" Their musicals included Babes in Arms (1937), On Your Toes (1936) and Pal Joey (1940).